16 Replies Latest reply on Aug 19, 2008 2:51 PM by Joey Morelli

    Film Look in AE

    Jim_Simon Level 8
      I recently read about a technique to make video look more like film using AE. Simply put, you add two layers of the video clip, Interpret the top as Upper field and set it's opacity to 50%. This handles the deinterlacing and motion blur aspects.

      Then you nest that first comp into a second one, and add the Posterize Time effect with a frame rate of 24. This handles the 24 fps aspect of the film look.

      Overall, the results are very, very good. My footage looks very much like film. And this method does not create any of the artifacts I get from using either DVFilm Maker or Magic Bullet Frames. But it does create something else - stutter, most noticeable on pans, even very slow ones.

      The other techniques create a smooth flowing movement, but also some other artifacts previously mentioned. I'm stubborn and want the best of all worlds. The smoother movement of DVFilm Maker, and no artifacts of AE.

      So the question is, are there any techniques you can think of to smooth out that stuttery 24 fps Posterize Time problem?
        • 1. Re: Film Look in AE
          bogiesan-gyyClL Level 3
          Frame blending. But then you will likely be complaining about the silky smoothness that you're trying to eliminate.
          If you convert 30 fps to 24, what do you think is going to happen to the 6 frames you are throwing away?

          Trish and Chris Meyer have a technique they call "Instant Sex" that creates a lovely filmish visual effect. you can find it in any of their AE books.

          • 2. Re: Film Look in AE
            Jim_Simon Level 8
            Thanks. I believe it's their technique I'm trying which creates that stutter. It's that stutter I'm trying to eliminate.

            Frame Blending does work to a marked degree, and I've no problem with that silky smoothness. But it also introduces other artifacts, particularly when a flash goes off. I get this very large, misshapen "ghost" image.

            The other two methods, Frames and DVFilm Maker, seem to deal much better with the 24P aspect, creating a fairly smooth look, but they create artifacts of their own which the AE method does not. It's just that damn stutter...

            Any other ideas out there?
            • 3. Re: Film Look in AE
              Level 1
              NTSC video runs at 29.97 frames per second. If you were to shoot on film (which I did exclusively for about 15 years) and you transfer to tape they introduce 3:2 pulldown so that the speed of the action is extremely close to real time. I say extremely close because it isn't exact. To be exact you have to shoot your film at 23.976 fps.

              This 3:2 pulldown introduced motion artifacts in the video that most agencies and most editors that I worked with hated. To eliminate the 3;2 pulldown motion artifacts we ran our Arri and Panavision cameras at 29.97 FPS. If the camera would allow it we opened up the shutter angle a bit to increase the exposure time. More on that later. Agencies that demanded this kind of filming technique included McCann Erickson and J Walter Thompson for their clients like Coke. Back in those days (admittedly a long time ago) we all hated and tried to avoid the look associated with 3:2 pulldown. Our "look" came from carefully exposing the film, using the proper shutter angle to achieve the desired amount of motion blur and prevent stutter at certain critical panning speeds, and generally make the spots we produced as beautiful and effective as we could. If, for some reason we were asked to shoot at 24 we actually shot at 23.976 fps so we wouldn't have to slow down the sound.

              Here's my point. The look of film is 90% about the color, gamma, and grain of film. We took great pains on the set to produce a negative that could be graded or timed in the lab to produce the look we wanted. About 5% is the difference in motion blur between a film camera and a video camera - which is a function of shutter angle/exposure time. Simply separating fields goes most of the way there and comes very close to simulating the motion blur of a film camera running at 29.97 fps with a 170º shutter. That leaves about 5% of the look related to the 3:2 pulldown, which we took great pains to eliminate.

              When I have standard video as the original source and the client wants a film look I use various color grading tools including my favorite, Magic Bullet Looks, and separate fields or deinterlace the footage. I never try to introduce 3:2 pulldown effects into the video. I almost never introduce fields when I render.

              If I shoot HD, I almost always shoot progressive and if the final product is going to be strictly NTSC video then I recommend to my clients that we shoot 30p instead of 24P because the end product just looks better.

              Ok, so that's my 2¢. I'd spend 90% of my time trying to get the color to look right, and about 2% of my time fussing with separating fields. I wouldn't waste my time trying to introduce 3:2 pulldown effects. IOW - trying to simulate a 24 fps frame rate. The remaining 8% of my time would be devoted to daydreaming.

              If you really insist on re-creating the look of the 3:2 pulldown then you have to take your NTSC video and place it in a 23.976 fps comp, mess with re-timing as you're doing, then, in the render cue you must introduce fields and 3:2 pulldown. The best tool to use for that is Magic Bullet Frames. (BTW-I use MB frames or Re:Vision Effects Fields Kit for deinterlacing.) The only way to judge how that product will look is to watch it on an interlaced monitor. You can't judge the motion artifacts by looking at it on your computer screen.
              • 4. Re: Film Look in AE
                Level 1
                I just re-read your original post and noticed the part about stutter on slow pans. There are critical panning speeds that any cinematographer worth his day rate knows about. This means that with any given lens and shutter angle combination there are panning speeds that you just can't use because they will stutter. Sometimes so horribly that you can't stand to watch the shot. When you convert your video to progressive by separating fields you run into these critical panning speeds.

                The stuttering is caused by retinal retention or persistence of vision. The more you slow down the frame rate, the wider the range of these critical speeds. We used to adjust the shutter angle on out film cameras to minimize this effect. If you check out HD shooting forums you'll find that a lot of videographers that are moving to HD get bitten by critical panning speeds when shooting progressive video. Step through the pan one frame at a time and you won't see any funky frames, but watch it at speed and persistence of vision steps in and your eyes go buggy....
                • 5. Re: Film Look in AE
                  thanks Rick for this post
                  • 6. Re: Film Look in AE
                    Todd_Kopriva Level 8
                    Have I mentioned lately how great it is to have you on this forum, Rick?
                    • 7. Re: Film Look in AE
                      Level 1
                      Thanks Todd, Glad to be of help.

                      If you want some real interesting reading on the difference between the way digital sensors and film as it relates to gamma, noise, and effectiveness then you should check out Prolost ,a blog by Stu Maschwitz, and read his article on clipping. It becomes very clear why it is so difficult to make video really look like and act like film.
                      • 8. Re: Film Look in AE
                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                        For starters, thank you for the reply. It is good to have someone so experienced take an interest in my problem.

                        >The look of film is 90% about the color, gamma, and grain of film.

                        I'm not entirely convinced of that, and here's why. If I approximate only those things on video source, it still looks like video. However, If I add the 24P, with or without those things, then it very much looks more like film.

                        I am also using Magic Bullet Looks, and that does indeed help make it look more like film in some respects, but it's not quite there. The end result is still a very glassy, video look without the 24P aspect.

                        I do also have Magic Bullet Frames, but it introduces it's own artifacts into the mix, which my current AE method avoids.

                        And I agree, all tests are viewed on an NTSC monitor.

                        >Step through the pan one frame at a time and you won't see any funky frames

                        If I step through one frame at a time, there actually are funky frames causing the jerkiness, so I'm thinking it may not be a persistence of vision issue in this case.
                        • 9. Re: Film Look in AE
                          Todd_Kopriva Level 8
                          On a related note...

                          I was just reading Steve Hullfish and Jaime Fowler's Color Correction for Digital Video, and this paragraph about the difference between video and film was interesting:

                          > Since a video display works additively, it can do a good
                          > job of making certain saturated colors of high lightness
                          > because as more primary-colored light is added, the lightness
                          > of the color increases. Film, on the other hand, is good at
                          > producing dark, saturated colors because as more colored dye
                          > is added, the lightness of the color decreases.
                          • 10. Re: Film Look in AE
                            shooternz Level 6
                            Jim: Have you seen this?

                            • 11. Re: Film Look in AE
                              Level 1
                              Videocopilot.net should be the first stop for anyone wanting to learn about After Effects.

                              I've been using that site for over 2 years and I have bought all the products. It's amazing what Andrew Kramer does, and all the tutorials are free.
                              • 12. Re: Film Look in AE
                                Jim_Simon Level 8

                                I have seen the Frame Rate converter. The results were simply not good enough.

                                For anyone else reading this and interested in getting video to look like real film, some very good work has been done over in the Premiere forum. We now have what I consider far and away the very best method of making 30i video look like real film source. And the best part is all the software is free!

                                Film Look from Video
                                • 13. Re: Film Look in AE
                                  Joey Morelli Level 1
                                  I use Red Giant Software to achieve incredible film looks from even the worst footage:


                                  ...and it's fast & stable (on my Macs, anyway).

                                  • 14. Re: Film Look in AE
                                    Level 1
                                    Yea but Ged Giant "Frames" is not that impressive. DVFilm maker has better processing at half the price. Not to mention it is a lot faster.
                                    • 15. Re: Film Look in AE
                                      What kind of artifacts are you getting with DVFilm Maker? Can you explain what the negative effect is?

                                      I have used Maker and MB Suite extensively, and my MB footage always had nasty artifacts that made it unusable. MB would typically give flickering and color abberations on fine details, and a sort of slurried look on natural fine details like rocks or trees.

                                      Maker on the other hand uses a very simple algorithm. When it detects deinterlacing, it field doubles to eliminate it. It lowers detail of objects in motion, which is cool with me, since they are in motion and generally motion blurred anyway. Also, it will alternate full frames with blended frames, so every other frame may have a slight double image. This, too me, is somewhat consistent with motion blur, and better than the detail artifacts of MB.

                                      All in all, MB produced really sharp looking stills, that were actually too sharp and had artifacts, and the sharpness also led to unnatural strobing on motion. The Maker approach was simpler, faster, and better for me, and never had artifacts. It doesn't produce great looking stills, but it looks more natural in motion.

                                      However, you need to understand the motion detect setting in Maker. I have found that on most footage, I need a setting of 200-300 to truly eliminate 99% of interlacing. The default is 50, and at that setting, a lot of interlacing leaks through, so you need to bump it up to get good results, especially if you have some low-contrast areas of your footage.
                                      • 16. Re: Film Look in AE
                                        Joey Morelli Level 1
                                        Yea but Ged Giant "Frames" is not that impressive. DVFilm maker has better processing at half the price. Not to mention it is a lot faster.

                                        Um...that's a matter of opinion and the speed depends on your machine.

                                        Just trying to help....sorry.